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Tips for a Caribbean Getaway on a Budget

Tips for a Caribbean Getaway on a Budget


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But that’s a misconception that savvy travelers can easily squash; the Caribbean isn’t just for the rich and fabulous! With affordable flights to Jamaica, St. Maarten, and Puerto Rico on carriers like JetBlue, American Airlines, and AirTran, plus a wealth of low-key accommodations, simple island restaurants, and a never-ending playground of land and water-based sports, it’s easy to imagine sun-tanning and soaking up the sights, tastes, and sounds of this breezy destination. Here are our suggestions for a low-fuss, low-cost Caribbean island holiday…

(P.S. Keep in mind that rates on flights and hotels dip significantly from early to mid-April through the end of May during the start of the low season, too!)

DIVING and SNORKELING

Caye Caulker, Belize

Sitting pretty at the top of the Caribbean’s barrier reef — the second largest in the world — Belize is the ultimate Caribbean destination for enjoying the gifts of the water. Boasting more than 450 islets that shoulder a stunning coral reef, Caye Caulker is the placefor those looking to go easy on their wallet. Book into Caye Caulker Plaza Hotel, located in the center of town and within walking distance of the beach and the Split, a local swim hangout. Rooms start at $55 (with air conditioning!) and the hotel can take care of all your diving needs, especially a trip to the famed Blue Hole, the Caribbean’s ultimate scuba dive. Cheaper still? Check out Yuma's (formerly known as Tina’s) a backpacker hostel that has been renovated by new owners and tops out at around $28.50 for a private room.

Don’t feel like diving? Snorkeling trips can be arranged through EZ Boy Tours, and after a long day of whatever water pleasure you choose, head to the Lazy Lizard for happy hour deals (two-for-one rum punch specials are $2.50) and a killer sunset. Finish the day with cheap eats at Syd's, an indoor/outdoor Belizean restaurant serving home-cooked food with a side of local flavor — just about $4.50 for huge plate of fried chicken and two sides.

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

The largest of the Cayman Islands, Grand Cayman’s crystalline waters are the stuff of dreams, and its Seven Mile Beach has graced the covers of countless glossy magazines. Known for its underwater coral reefs and sea walls, in addition to a number of shipwrecks, Grand Cayman is the Caribbean hot spot to log some serious time under the sea. For good rates, try Don Foster’s where one-tank dives start at just $50, wreck dives can be found for $65, and two-tanks for as little as $85. In addition to favorites dive sites like the Devil’s Grotto and Stingray City, don’t miss the island’s newest dive attraction: the USS Kittiwake wreck, sunk in January 2011. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Food Stories)

Best bet for lodging? Sunshine Suites, just off the water on Seven Mile Beach, but half as pricey as the nearby Westin! With respect to making your dollar last when it comes to food, Grand Cayman has a long list of cheap eats. A couple of favorites include Tim-Buc-Tuu-Diner in West Bay that offers all-you-can-eat pancakes for $5 every morning from 8 a.m. to11 a.m., and heaping dinners of chicken, pork, beef, seafood for around $10. For roadside jerk chicken, it’s all about Seymour’s, a local shack where the BBQ pits are made from old metal drums and live chickens roam the area feasting with diners on their less fortunate counterparts.

NATURE

Puerto Rico

To bond with nature in the Caribbean, we suggest hitting Puerto Rico’s El Yunque Rainforest, a recent finalist in the New Seven Wonders of the World competition. Located about 25 miles east of San Juan, El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, is worth the trip. There is no entry fee to visit El Yunque, which spans 28,000 acres and reaches 3,624 feet into the sky. Though the various trails and waterfalls are easy for visitors to access on their own, park rangers offer first-come first served guided tours for $5 from the Palo Colorado Information Center

and local tour operators feature half- and full-day itineraries for a bit more cash. For mid-hike refuels, head to Muralla, near La Coca Falls, and order the $5 arroz con pollo.

Though big-name hotels line PR-3, Puerto Rico’s main drag connecting eastern cities, the Yunque Mar Beach Hotel is a great alternative. Located just outside Luquillo on a gorgeous stretch of isolated beachfront property, this no-frills joint gives you easy access to the rainforest, as well as Luquillo’s other treasure: the Luquillo kioskos. Numbering around 60, the kioskos are a popular foodie destination selling everything from pastelillos, or Puerto Rican empanadas, to fresh seafood and grilled lobsters. Best bets? The stuffed burgers and loaded fries at El Jefe (number 12), Spanish-style small plates at Tapas 13 (number 13), Peruvian-style ceviches at Ceviche Hut (number 38), and New York-style deli sandwiches at the recently opened FoodSpace (number 37). (Photo courtesy of Marie Elena Martinez)


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.


Caribbean Travel Guide

NOTICE: The information here is updated as best we can in light of COVID-19. Please check attractions, activities, etc before you go as things can change quickly.


The Caribbean is made up of over 5,000 islands, reefs, and cays, each with its own unique attractions and price ranges. In recent years, even very secluded islands have been transformed into some of the world’s most exclusive vacationing destinations.

There is a misconception that a vacation to the Caribbean will be extremely expensive and not a viable region of the world for budget travelers.

But that’s not true. After all, this is a huge region and all the islands are different! You can definitely visit the Caribbean on a budget. Sure, while accommodation can be expensive, costs of food and activities vary greatly island to island.

With so many places to choose from in this guide, you’ll find a corner of the Caribbean suitable to your budget. Trust me. I’ve been to a lot of the countries in this part of the world (I love a good beach!).

This Caribbean travel guide will help point the way by giving you tips on what to see, costs, suggested budgets, ways to save money, and everything else you need to plan a great trip!

Table of Contents

Click Here for Country Guides


Caribbean

Top 5 Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sail around the Virgin Islands

2. Visit Havana, Cuba

3. Hike the Pitons in St. Lucia

4. Swim with the pigs, Bahamas

5. See Trunk Bay, St. John

Other Things to See and Do in the Caribbean

1. Sample rum at the Mount Gay Rum Distillery, Barbados

Barbados is the birthplace of rum, and Mount Gay the oldest continuously running rum distillery in the world. (They’ve been doing it for over 300 years!) For $10 USD you can tour the Mount Gay Rum Distillery – and you get huge discounts on Mount Gay at the end too!

2. Learn about Reggae’s roots, Jamaica

Jamaica is home to reggae music, and there’s little chance of you going anywhere in Jamaica and not hearing Bob Marley’s beats blaring in the background. Make the pilgrimage to his museum, the large house on Hope Road in Kingston, where he lived and worked between 1975-1981. You’ll learn more about the iconic Rastafarian’s life, with glimpses into his recording studio and bedroom. Admission is $25 USD.

3. Splash around Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica

This is the most popular visitor attraction in Jamaica. Located in Ocho Rios, these falls cascading over plateaus are 600 feet high and are stunning. For those who are adventurous enough, you can climb up them — but for everyone else, walk the trail that follows the river or go for a swim in one of the many azure pools at the base of the falls. Entry $20 USD.

4. Go snorkeling or diving

Divers and even snorkelers can visit shipwrecks and coral reefs in the waters surrounding the islands. In the Bahamas, the Tongue of the Ocean is an oceanic trench that runs along the entire length of the Andros Island coast. The wall of the trench leads to an almost 6,000 feet drop to the seabed where divers can get up close and personal with reef sharks as they swarm in to feed. Two-tank drives start from $120 USD. St. Lucia is another great place to explore the ocean for its clear Caribbean waters and a vast array of sea creatures, including parrotfish, trumpet fish, and needlefish, especially in the Anse Chastanet Reef. Diving costs start around $90 USD for a two-tank dive and snorkeling costs from $60 USD.

5. Go zip-lining in St. Lucia

If you’re looking for an adventurous break from sun-tanning, try zip-lining through the rain forest canopy. Adventure Tours St. Lucia has a total of 12 lines, including the highest, longest, and fastest line on the island. There are also five net bridges and lots of opportunities to catch some gorgeous views over St. Lucia. You’ll pay 230 XCD ($85 USD) for a full day of zip lining.

6. Visit Antigua

Antigua is one of the largest Caribbean islands, with over 365 pink and white beaches (including Dickenson Bay and Pigeon Point Beach). If you’re into sailing, sign up to be a deckhand or observe Sailing Week at the end of April, the world-renowned regatta featuring 150-200 yachts and more than 1,500 participants.

7. See the world’s “wickedest” city, Jamaica

Most travelers don’t venture into Jamaica’s eastern parish of Portland — it’s an area off the tourist trail and a nice alternative to the crowds on the coast. But if you do come here, you’ll be rewarded with peaceful beaches, endless natural beauty, and friendly locals who aren’t afraid to chat you up. While you’re here, visit the Blue Lagoon, see Somerset Falls, and sample plenty of jerk chicken in the town of Boston.

8. Kayak around the islands

One of the best ways to explore these islands by water, but if you can’t afford your own powerboat, a half-day kayaking tour is a great alternative. One of the best kayaking experiences is with Clear Kayak Aruba. Their clear-bottomed kayaks let you see the reefs and coral beneath you, and a two-hour paddle costs $60 USD. Prices will vary by island (and sometimes your hotel may have rent them out), but you can expect to pay around $100 USD on average for a full-day tour.

9. Pretend you’re a pirate, Bahamas

If you’re looking for more pirate culture, check out the Pirates of Nassau Museum in the Bahamas dedicated to the history of piracy. You’ll walk around replica pirate ships, visit the dungeon, and learn through interactive exhibits about how pirates set up base here between 1690 and 1720. Admission is $13.50 USD for adults and $6.75 USD for children.

10. Go nude at Salomon’s Beach, St. John

Once a secluded nude beach, authorities have been cracking down in recent years on anyone caught not wearing clothing. Nevertheless, many people push their luck and hit the sand in nothing but their birthday suit. Are you bold enough to risk the $100 fine?

11. Lose yourself in the clouds, Jamaica

Holywell National Park lies in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica and is one of the most accessible areas in the mountains. Several short treks around here will have you wandering upward into a cloud forest, surrounded by colorful birds (like hummingbirds!) and screeching monkeys. A short drive from Kingston, this tropical park can easily be visited in one afternoon. Park entrance is $10 USD.

12. Celebrate Carnival, St. John

St. John’s Carnival takes place in late June and traditionally culminates with a 4th of July parade, as Islanders also celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. It features mocko jumbies, calypso music, the crowning of Ms. St. John and the Carnival King. Spectacular fireworks are shot into the air at the festival.

13. Explore the Hato Caves, Curacao

These caves were once hiding spots for escaped slaves who would hide in them for weeks or even months at a time. You can take a guided tour and see the stalagmites, stalactites and cave drawings, which date back 1,500 years. Admission is $9 USD, including the tour. It’s open daily from 9AM-4PM, and tours are every hour on the hour.

14. Visit the Baths, British Virgin Islands

After crawling through a tiny opening, you are surrounded by gigantic granite boulders nestled on each other with streams of water flowing all around them. There are nooks and crannies to explore everywhere. After wading through, enjoy the calm and beauty of Dead Man’s Beach. Simply, the Baths are beautiful.

For information about other Caribbean destinations, check out these guides:

Caribbean Travel Costs

Accommodation – There aren’t many hostels or campgrounds to be found in the Caribbean. Most islands don’t cater to budget travelers. For the ones that exist, a bed will cost about $30 USD per night for a room with four-six beds. A dorm with eight beds or more costs from $20 USD per night.

A small double or twin bed with an ensuite bathroom in a hostel starts at about $40 USD per night for one person, or $50 USD for two people.

Nightly rates for a budget two or three-star hotel room with a private ensuite bathroom start at about $45 USD in St. Lucia, $55 USD in Jamaica, and $100 USD in Curacao. Most affordable hotel rooms you’ll find on St. John start from $195 USD per night.

Airbnb is widely available all over the Caribbean. In Aruba, shared accommodations (like a bed in a dorm) start at $34 USD per night, while it starts at $25 UD per night in Curacao. For a private room, expect to pay from $40 USD per night on Aruba and in the Bahamas, while private rooms on St. John start from about $90 USD. A full apartment on Curacao starts at about $135 per night. Aruba averages about $150 USD per night for an entire apartment, but it’s as high as $345 USD per night in the Virgin Islands. As you can see, prices vary drastically!

Food – Many hotels and resorts around the Caribbean offer free breakfast for guests. In Aruba, a bagel sandwich at a café starts from about $4 USD, while you can grab a ham-and-cheese sandwich at Superfoods for $3 USD. In the BVIs, the cheapest meal I saw around the islands was a small sandwich that cost $8 USD. However, you can find fresh fruit and fruit juices at food stalls all over the place for $1-2 USD.

A McMeal costs about $8 USD on average. You can grab a filling Jamaican patty from a street vendor for about $1 USD. In general, $12 USD will get you a fish or chicken plate or a burger, and a meal of conch fritters or a large plate of peas and rice will cost from $9 USD.

For main courses, steak, fish, or seafood, you’re looking at $20 USD or more. At an upscale restaurant (like at a resort), you’ll pay between $35-50 USD for a fish or steak main course, and a glass of wine to wash it down is about $10 USD. A beer starts from $2 USD at most restaurants.

Avoid restaurants near cruise ports and resorts, and find the local markets and cook your food as often as you can. Basic groceries for the week (milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fruit, and veggies) will cost between $50-70 USD.

Activities – Even if you’re on a really tight budget, the Caribbean has plenty of free things see and do – especially if you just want to hang out on the beaches. Museum visits or distillery tours will not cost more than $30 USD.

Adventure tours will cost more money. Snorkeling tours start from $60 USD, while two-tank dives start from about $120 USD. A day sail with lunch included costs from $80 USD, but can be as high as $120 USD in the Virgin Islands. ATV or off-roading tours start at about $100 USD per day.

If you want to do some Caribbean island hopping, you can expect inclusive tours to start at about $175 USD per day.

Backpacking the Caribbean Suggested Budgets

Prices for Caribbean travel vary greatly depending on where you are. You can find islands to fit any budget, but some places (like the Virgin Islands) will be much harder to do on a shoestring.

If you’re backpacking the Caribbean, my suggested budget is about $65 USD per day. This budget will cover hostel dorms, shared Airbnb, or camping (when available). You’ll do limited inter-island travel, eat local street food and cook some of your meals, and enjoy mostly the free, nature activities.

A mid-range budget of about $155 USD will cover staying in a two-star budget hotel room, eating out all your meals, some inter-island travel, and more paid activities like snorkeling or boat tours.

For a luxury budget of about $370 USD per day, you will stay in a four-star hotel or resort, eat out at fancy restaurants, take taxis everywhere, do plenty of inter-island travel, and do any activity you want as often as you want! The sky is the limit.

With all these budgets, the big wild cards will be the room costs (cheaper if you split with a friend), your food (what kind of meals are you having), and how you’ll get around (interisland travel can be expensive). You can lower all these costs (see below), but keep this in mind.

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages – some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.



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